Owners' Suite 70% Complete

Photoshopped Casa as it appeared in listing

When I first found our future casa on Sebastian's website DRCoastalproperties.com I clicked through
Look! Bonus 200 square feet
the pictures and saved it as a favorite. Not knowing at that time whether or not Cabrera or even the Dominican Republic would be a possibility for our future lives. I documented the early days in my first couple blog entries. Back then the house was a model home (aka first house in a development of eventually 10 little 2 bedroom bungalows with pools and ocean views.) It was built in 2005, but then the global recession and the builder's own health changed the plans. Fast forward ten years and Thomas and I meet Sebastian at his office and he guides us up a road that is barely passable and to which he refers as the 'easy' way...through a rough looking ramshackle squatter village, up a steep rocky road...and down a two-track that led me to wonder "Are we going to be murdered up here? Will anyone find the bodies?" Sebastian didn't act or seem like a serial killer, but who would know??

Then we turn up an even steeper two-track (our road) and park next to a little white box with the Bermuda style roof. The listing had shown a cute little house with a tall royal palm next to it and the pool not even complete. When we drove up I didn't really notice anything different, but when we walked in I clearly remember thinking, "Hmmm...I thought the kitchen was tucked into a corner with a sliding door to the patio?" followed by "What are these lines running through the floor and up the walls and ceiling?" A subsequent owner had bumped-out the living area to have more indoor space for furniture...not a bad choice...but, an even better choice was adding a 20' by 10' structure to the southern side of pool deck (bye bye royal palm) that was two rooms, one with a shower and toilet.  So, in short, there was the potential right away for this house to be a three bedroom, two bath house! Even though the listing still showed only a two bedroom and one bathroom.  I don't think it would have still been for sale even for $110,000 if the listing had been current...let alone the $75,000 we got it for.  We thank our lucky stars! It would take some work, but
sliders from two rooms
original kitchen alcove
in the end we could have an owners' suite that was separate from the main house and even if there were tenants living there (it would be in the lease) Thomas and/or I could use it if we had to come down to fix things. Not to mention, having the ability to lock up certain things. The two rooms had doors that were only accessible from the other side. No pool deck entry. The original patio door to the kitchen was still in the house when we bought it so that logically was installed into the poolside wall and the wall between the two chambers was mostly taken down by Thomas and his son Robin in the first summer we owned the house. There are a lot of little complications to converting these two rooms and bathroom into a owners' suite:

  • The floors are below the pool deck.
  • The pool deck is meant to drain off that side.
  • We still need a place to use as a storage room.
  • Aforementioned partitioning wall needed to be removed.
  • Two external doors for the two rooms.
  • It needed access to pool deck...luckily we had the patio doors!
  • There is no room for a sink in the bathroom...never fixed this.
  • The unit is on its own expensive electric water heater.
  • Bars needed to be placed on the windows.
We have dealt with around half of these issues.  Once the upgraded plumbing is complete we will move all the furniture out and pour concrete to raise the floor and upgrade the tiles that are in bad shape. We have a small fridge and a coffee maker in there now and it feels like a hotel room suite. I would not stay in the owners' suite until we put bars on all the windows and got a new door (the old one was so rotted and cracked many MANY creepy crawlies could and did get in. No, thank you).  But all of that was handled and soon it will be getting its very own direct solar AC split unit and will stay cool and dry between visits, and additionally, can be a place to store linens, towels and other bedding items to keep them from getting super musty smelling! Ew! Most importantly, we finally were able to set up the king-sized bed in the suite and it's super comfy! Sleeping had been a bit elusive due to the extremely firm queen mattress in the poolside bedroom in the main house. (I have since bought a memory foam topper for that bed so that other humans could actually use it...) Now, per my persistant ability to find something to complain about, I have only to deal with the cricket and frog chorus at night keeping me awake.  Since the suite has four exterior walls, each with a window or a door, the cacophonous Song of the Caribbean Night can be deafening!

Both Thomas and I have officially used the owners' suite on impromptu trips down to Cabrera for various issues. It's nice to have and we now can fit 5 to 6 people comfortably in the house when I bring my mom and the kids down for vacation!  That's a bonus!


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